Ministers have drawn up plans to put troops on the streets to help deal with the coronavirus crisis after the number of deaths almost doubled within 24 hours.
With the death toll jumping from 11 to 21 and the number of confirmed UK cases leaping by almost 40 per cent, Downing Street accelerated plans to ban large public events and implement the self-isolation of entire households where any member has succumbed to the illness.
In a bid to ‘shield’ the most vulnerable, the Government is also expected to tell people over 70 to stay in strict isolation at home or in care homes for four months.
Under emergency legislation to be put before MPs within days, safeguards introduced after the scandal involving serial killer Dr Harold Shipman will also be suspended in order to speed up cremations and burials.
Ministers have drawn up plans to put troops on the streets to help deal with the coronavirus crisis after the number of deaths almost doubled within 24 hours (Boris Johnson pictured in Downing Street on Saturday)
In preparation for the worst-case scenario, defence sources told The Mail on Sunday that Army units were stepping up their training for public order roles – including the guarding of hospitals and supermarkets (file photo)
In a bid to ‘shield’ the most vulnerable, the Government is also expected to tell people over 70 to stay in strict isolation
The UK’s death rate has doubled overnight as a further ten patients died from the coronavirus. The total number of cases in the UK leapt from 820 this morning to 1,145 this afternoon
A woman is pictured wearing a mask on Oxford Street Saturday. Commuters around the country said train stations, carriages and car parks seemed deserted compared to normal
Ministers will also get powers to make compulsory purchases of land to free up room for extra graveyards.
In preparation for the worst-case scenario, defence sources told The Mail on Sunday that Army units were stepping up their training for public order roles – including the guarding of hospitals and supermarkets.
The Royal Logistics Corps are preparing to be used to escort food convoys and the Royal Army Medical Corps is poised to build tented field hospitals next to care homes.
Troops trained in chemical, biological and nuclear warfare will deep-clean empty public buildings in case they need to be turned in to hospitals or morgues.
And the Army has also drawn up contingency plans to keep petrol stations topped up with fuel when the country reaches ‘peak virus’.
The number of confirmed UK cases rose yesterday to 1,140, up from 820. And globally, there have now been 153,585 reported cases with 5,802 deaths.
In another day of dramatic developments:
- The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies told the Government that it will soon need to start shielding the most vulnerable members of society and isolating entire households;
- President Donald Trump announced the US travel ban would be extended to the UK from tomorrow;
- Hundreds of Britons, many of them elderly, were stuck aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean where five people have tested positive for the virus;
- Spain and Poland closed their borders, stranding thousands of British holidaymakers, and France closed all non-essential public spaces such as cafes and cinemas;
- Boris Johnson asked UK manufacturers to support the rapid, wartime-style production of essential medical kit, particularly ventilators, while the NHS will buy up beds in private hospitals;
- Panic-buying led to extraordinary scenes at supermarkets across the country, prompting stores to plead with consumers to ‘work together’;
- World Health Organisation spokesman Dr Margaret Harris questioned the British Government’s strategy of delaying ‘social distancing’, arguing that it risked infecting millions;
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak met insurance leaders amid a growing row over who will foot the bill for cancelled holidays;
- It emerged that care homes and hospitals are likely to be ‘cocooned’ when the Easter lockdown comes into effect;
- Three patients tested positive for Covid-19 at a hospital close to the Queen’s Norfolk estate;
- Downing Street underwent a ‘deep clean’ following a visit by Tory MP Nadine Dorries, who subsequently tested positive for the virus – but the Prime Minister has not been tested;
- A group of Dutch scientists claimed to have found an antibody that may help detect and prevent the coronavirus from being able to infect people;
- Experts predicted the Government could be forced to effectively nationalise airlines and train companies.
Shoppers were scrambling for food and hygiene products as mass hysteria gripped the nation amid the worrying pandemic
Coronavirus panic-buying unleashed carnage on British supermarkets today as hoards of shoppers gutted the nation’s food and toilet roll aisles (Tesco in Colney Hatch, London, pictured)
President Donald Trump has banned flights to the US from the UK and Ireland amid the coronavirus pandemic
Defence sources told this newspaper that under the contingency plans, 38 military liaison officers would work with local councils to brief civil servants on how the Armed Forces could help combat the crisis.
The most essential staff, such as RAF Typhoon pilots, would be quarantined at work to ensure the UK’s continued protection and the SAS’s stand-by squadron would be held in the UK, rather than be deployed overseas.
If the crisis deepens, hundreds – possibly thousands – of troops could be deployed. Hundreds of members of the Armed Forces hold HGV licences and are trained in transporting hazardous loads such as fuel.
Members of the Royal Military Police would also support local constabulaties, while troops could also be used to drive ambulances and fire engines.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will tomorrow issue a Churchillian call to leading British manufacturers to join a national effort to combat the spread of the virus. In particular he will urge the construction of more ventilators, which the Government will vow to buy.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘The scale of the challenge we face means we can’t do this alone… we need every part of society and every industry to ask what they can do to help the effort.’
Amid criticism of the Government’s strategy, Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said they will publish the statistical models on which the ‘shielding and isolating’ response was based.
Everything you need to know about coronavirus at a glance: From how to avoid the virus to survival while self-isolating and knowing the difference between the flu and Covid-19
WORLD IN LOCKDOWN
- The death toll from the coronavirus reached almost 6,000 last night with another 400 lives lost worldwide over the past 24 hours.
- In Britain, the number of dead doubled, to 21, with the Government set to announce a series of tough emergency measures to try to contain the disease.
- Across Europe, countries have become crippled and placed in lockdown. In Spain, cases soared from 1,500 to 5,700 and ministers declared an unprecedented two-week state of emergency. France has ordered non-essential locations to close and several nations have closed their borders or shut their airports.
- With the travel plans of millions already affected, US President Donald Trump last night decreed that all flights from the UK to America are to be banned from tomorrow, in addition to the 26 EU nations previously announced.
IS MY COUGH A COLD OR COVID-19?
Experts such as Professor Jonathan Ball, virologist at the University of Nottingham, say data suggests that in as many of 70 per cent of cases, coronavirus has symptoms similar to a common cold.
Meanwhile, official advice is that if you have a temperature above 37.8C, feel hot to touch on your chest or back, or if you have a new, persistent cough, you should stay home for seven days. Other cold-like symptoms may be indicators and some offer this chart (below) as a rough guide…
HOW BEST TO AVOID VIRUS
- Health experts can’t stress enough: WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN with soap and running water for 20 seconds. Also use hand sanitiser.
- Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze. Put tissues into a disposable rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell. A minimum distance of 6ft 6in (2 metres) is recommended.
- Do NOT touch your face, especially mouth, nose or eyes, as this is one way the virus enters your system.
- There’s no firm evidence that most face masks cut the risk of infection. But they might reduce hand-mouth contact.
HOME-WORKING IN PYJAMAS?
As comfortable as your pyjamas may seem, it’s wise to get properly dressed and adopt a regular routine by differentiating between ‘work’ and ‘down’ time.
Also, take care of your diet as blood sugar levels affect mood and energy levels. Video conference calls with work colleagues can help stop loneliness.
Towards evening, put away your work equipment and change clothes to help psychologically mark the shift to personal time.
ELDERLY MOST AT RISK
The death rate for over-80s who contract the virus has been assessed at nearly 15 per cent, according to Chinese data. Anyone over 60 is advised to avoid crowds because the risk of infection may increase in closed settings with little air circulation.
In coming weeks, the old and vulnerable may be asked to self-isolate, regardless of symptoms. Children, though, seem relatively unaffected – the vast majority have only mild symptoms.
But since they tend to come into contact with far more people, they can spread the virus much more widely.
MORE DIE FROM WINTER FLU
Since the virus was first reported, at least ten times as many people have died from winter flu, while other diseases have claimed substantially more lives – as our graph shows.
SELF-ISOLATING? AN ESSENTIAL SURVIVAL GUIDE
If self-isolating, like Health Minister Nadine Dorries, avoid direct human contact.
Instead, use video conferencing and social media.
Move around as much as possible. If you have a garden, get fresh air regularly but do NOT leave your property.
Drink plenty of water and take paracetamol to help alleviate the symptoms.
Plan what you’ll need – food, medicines etc – and arrange how they can be obtained.
Sign up to online services if you haven’t already.
Keep busy with activities.
Keep your distance from others you live with, and sleep alone. Use separate towels. Also use a separate bathroom, if possible – but if you can’t, clean it thoroughly after using it.
BORIS’S ‘SOMBRERO’ PLAN
CLEAN YOUR PHONE DAILY
Experts believe the virus can survive on flat surfaces for days unless they’re disinfected.
They advise cleaning your phone with alcohol wipes twice a day. Or use water and soap with a slightly wetted cloth.
Don’t use kitchen cleaners, window cleaners or paper towels, which can leave debris and scratch the surface.
Experts believe the virus can survive on flat surfaces for days unless they’re disinfected